Let's begin tonight with our election coverage.
We touched on this a little bit last night. There's an old saying in Washington. The gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth. More recently, President Barack Obama made a new kind of gaffe, when he told the truth, on poi'pose.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges.
Ah, so the argument, made in apparently a comedy club of hecklers, that your success also owes some debt to the system and infrastructure that was created to support your endeavor. And that the debt that it owes is what we call taxes. That's supposed to go back into the system. It's a pretty unremarkable observation about life in a society. Here's the gaffe:
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, that... you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? Whoa! What? No! Did you? What?
President Obama, are you saying that people who built businesses, they didn't build that, that business, that? Are you inexplicably and unprecedentedly in the middle of a rather banal populist run delivering a nut punch to small business owners? Is that your point, sir?
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Oh, that's your point. Here's a tip. When someone says, "the point is," the next thing they say, usually nine times out of ten, is the point.
But I see what happened here. By using the phrase "you didn't build that," you create confusion by using the demonstrative singular pronoun "that" instead of the plural anaphor "those", which of course, if you're referring to the antecedent, "roads and bridges". I hope... oh! OH!!
MY BUTT JUST GAVE ITSELF A WEDGIE!!! IT'S... OH MY GOD!! My butt is giving myself a grammar wedgie! Why would you do that? But I'm... you're inanimate and I'm wearing you. Why would you do that?
It is true though, especially in politics, never say "that", because the singular demonstrative pronoun points too specific a finger. Always use the plural those. Then you don't get in trouble. Instead of saying this...
BILL CLINTON (1/26/1998): I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
See? "That" specific woman who could presumably be found in tontu(?). What you want to say is "I did not have sex with those women. Those women!" That... wait. (audience cheering and applause
No, that's... OK, that's a bad example.
Anyway, you'd have to be a real shyster, given the surrounding context of Obama's remarks, including his "the point is" discussion, to make willful hay out of this rather common singular plural demonstrative pronoun snaf... OW MY SHIRT'S GIVING ME A NURPLE!!! WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT? I'm being bullied by my own....
Anyway, I wonder which way the conservative pundits went with it.
ERIC BOLLING (7/16/2012): What's your reaction when you hear the President say it's not your hard work that made you successful, it's the government?
Yes! Grade school Marxism! Or, as your second grade teacher might have referred to it, sharing. (audience cheering and applause)
BAY BUCHANAN (7/19/2012): There's no question in my mind he does not respect small business owners.
BRENT BOZELL (7/19/2012): Then he turns around and dismisses the free enterprise system.
ERICK ERICKSON (7/17/2012): I mean, he's just... this is just grade school Marxism that he's uttering.
Guys! He clearly said before "you didn't build that", he was talking about building roads and bridges! It was in the speech. You really want to hang your entire campaign on a willful out of context misunderstanding?
STEVE DOOCY (7/25/2012): The President has been out there, he's now got a political ad that is up in a number of the swing states, where he says, "You know, I've been taken out of context. Don't believe what Mitt Romney is saying." All right, here's what the President said that got him into trouble with the Republicans.
All right, good on you, Steve Doocy. I've made fun of you in the past as being a bit of a tool, a foppish throw-pillow of misinformation, a disingenuous Muppet-shaped propaganda tube. My apologies. But now you're going to play the unedited in-context version showing the line immediately before the "you didn't build that" line, the one about the roads and bridges. So thank you.
(audience groans in disgust)
STEVE DOOCY: ... here's what the President said that got him into trouble with the Republicans.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be 'cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hard-working people out there. ... (clip edited by Fox News) If you've got a business, that... you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.
Where was the middle part about the bridges and the roads, where you....? You didn't even flash through it, you just had Obama dissolve into dust, like a bad CGI vampire! That's not context. That's just different no context! I'm beginning to think you might just be a disingenuous Muppet-shaped propaganda tube after all!
Can you get more manipulative?
BRIAN KILMEADE (7/24/2012): Meet the founders of Cool Blast Lemonade, sisters 7-year-old Clara, and 4-year-old Eliza Sutton.
(awkward pause) Go on...
(yells into wrist) Cut the feed! Cut the feed! Cut the feed, Red Eagle! Captain Jammies and Little Princess said they had help! They're going rogue!!
BRIAN KILMEADE: How do you feel about the President saying that you needed help to start this business? And just speak from... speak from within.
CLARA SUTTON: I would say that's rude, because we worked very hard to build this business. But we did have help.
BRIAN KILMEADE: And your help came from?
CLARA SUTTON: Our help came from our investors, our dad and step-mom, along with other friends and family.
So, they had help from their families. Literally, big brother!
Look, the campaigns all like to have fun with gaffes. Making a big deal out of a misstatement is a great way to win a news cycle.
"The private sector is doing fine."
"I like firing people."
(in Russian accent) "I'll transmit this information to Vladamir."
"I really like firing people, especially poor ones."
But this ain't a gaffe. And Mitt Romney's not having a little fun with it. This deliberate misstating and misrepresentation of Obama's position is now the centerpiece of
">Romney's entire campaign. He's got signage...
and this unrelenting ad.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): If you've got a business, that... you didn't build that. If you've got a business, that... you didn't build that. If you've got a business, that... you didn't build that.
Apply directly to the forehead. Apply directly to the forehead. We get it!
Mr. Romney, hanging your attack on a person's slight grammatical misstep is what people do in an argument when they're completely fucked and they know they have no argument. (audience applause)
I know you, Mitt Romney, would like this election to be a stark choice for the American people, between Obama's vision of a Marxist, state-run oligarchy, and your simple ode to the freedom our founders envisioned. 'Cause given that choice, you would... come really close.
But, you're not running against this guy, Strawman Johnson.
There are absolutely differences in economic policy between you and the President that you could use to have a substantive discussion about our economy that might even be productive for our future well-being. But that discussion is a matter of degrees, not a matter of fundamental, diametrically opposed world views.
Here's how I know. Mr. President and Mr. Romney argue it out.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.
(wild audience applause and cheering)
MITT ROMNEY (7/18/2012): I know that you recognize that a lot of people helped you in a business.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.
MITT ROMNEY (7/18/2012): ... your school teachers ...
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): Government research created the Internet, so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
MITT ROMNEY (7/18/2012): There are a lot of people in government who help us, and allow us to have an economy that works.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): Somebody invested in roads and bridges.
MITT ROMNEY (7/17/2012): ... people who build roads ...
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): If you've got a business...
MITT ROMNEY (7/17/2012): You really couldn't have business if you didn't have those things.
BARACK OBAMA (7/13/2012): ... you didn't build that.
MITT ROMNEY (7/18/2012): Take that, Mr. President!
We'll be right back.
for another series of questions of what a Herman Cain presidency would look like.
Meanwhile, Stephen looked at the news about that Romney adviser who said Obama didn't understand the
the Bible for "50 Shades of Grey".
, which of course went long. Here's the entire unedited interview in three parts.